Artist Spotlight: Curtis Stage

Sending Smoke Signals

Artist’s Studio
The first step involves photographing everyday objects that will serve as the building blocks for the final artwork. These photographs of patterns and textures are then printed in large scale to act as either the background or the foreground collages in the final piece.

Next comes a full day dedicated to meticulously constructing “staged” images in the studio. This process is akin to sculpting, as the photographs are manipulated in a three-dimensional fashion. These sculptural still-life’s serve solely as the foundation for the final photograph and are never seen by anyone else.

The following day is reserved for taking the final photograph. This involves lighting the scene and making any compositional adjustments. Finally, the photographs are taken into Photoshop to erase any wires used to suspend elements within the frame.

Future Perfect Now

What would life be like without art?
I feel like all Art is central to being human. We NEED to create. We need to tell our story. We need to connect. If I am not making Art, I am teaching it, experiencing it, or thinking about it. So, for me there is zero possibility of a life without Art and I try to integrate it into everything I do.

Let Me Stop You There

What advice would you give your younger self?
As a college professor, I am constantly imploring my students to practice. Nobody ever got worse from more practice. That act of doing repeatedly sets up habits but also sets up opportunities for exploration. The more you are involved with an idea, the more it will open possibilities and a way for you to work through to find meaning.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Build your own empire. Nobody is going to hand you anything.

The Plan of Attack

What inspires you?
I am attracted to the questions. Especially the unanswered questions. Getting lost is an essential part of the artistic process for me. As soon as I find an answer or the “right” path, it’s time to move on to the next challenge. On a day-to-day basis, inspiration comes from many places, especially conversations with other artists and exposure to all different art forms. Everything I see gets incorporated into my work somehow. Even a great lyric or a scene from a movie can spark an idea for a new piece. I believe it’s important to constantly explore new territory, even if it’s outside of my area of expertise. I’m fascinated by topics like the science of consciousness and strange discoveries in physics. I find that the more they uncover the less they know. Which is somewhat frightening but opens up so much.

In the Studio

What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
Every day, I am privileged to work in a creative field. It’s not merely a choice; it’s a necessity—an intrinsic part of who I am. If you resonate with this sentiment, you’ll understand that creativity isn’t optional; it’s an essential force that drives us forward and you will find a way to carve your path.

Everyone’s path is unique and winding. Trust the process—the twists, turns, and unexpected detours. But here’s the crux: obsession and commitment fuel the journey. Embrace them wholeheartedly. They are the catalysts that transform mere ideas into remarkable stories. Be patient and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Features of the Simulation

If you could change anything about the art world, what would it be?
If the “art world” stopped trying so hard to be separate from the rest of the world that would be a start.

What do you wish to accomplish with your art?
In the current body of work my hope is that I challenge what a photograph can be outside of its normal way we interact with the medium. I have always been interested in how we are enticed into the picture plane – how an image can create a tension between static and dynamic, flatness and space. With a strong push into (a hopefully unique) abstraction… Can a photograph defy its traditional structure and become something else for a moment? I’m interested in how images maybe don’t need to be truths – how what is framed doesn’t need to neatly fit into our normal way of seeing and that images don’t need to be indexes but can be analogies.

http://www.curtisstage.com
@curtisstage

Curtis Stage Studio


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